After failing to land a tight end in the 2014 recruiting class, landing one is a top priority of Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes for their 2015 class.
They've already offered a handful of tight ends for the class and it's pretty clear that a top target has emerged in Avon (CT) Old Farms tight end Chris Clark.
When the Buckeyes offered him back on December 20th, he was a relatively new name of the recruiting scene. Quite a bit has changed since then, as he now has over 40 offers.
"It's been freaking crazy. I can't even point to words. I just got my 40th offer today from Arizona and Kentucky and that pushed me to 40. Its just been crazy since December, I've been hearing from all of these different schools every day," Clark said. "It has been pretty exciting, but it has gotten a little stressful, having all of these new schools coming into play. It makes it tough to figure out where I want to go visit and figure out which schools I like."
Clark is really confident in his game, but it was tough for him or anyone to see all of the offers that would be coming in.
"Yeah I was hoping all of this good stuff would happen for me and thought I had a pretty good junior season and I thought my tape was really good. I'm excited all of the coaches liked what I could do," Clark told Land-Grant Holy Land. "I have confidence in my game and it's awesome the attention I'm receiving."
The standout tight end took the time to preview his upcoming visit swing, which started with a trip to Maryland Friday. He'll then go to Penn State and North Carolina next weekend, followed by trips to Ohio State and Michigan the weekend after that. He's busy March will conclude at the end of the month when he makes trips to Notre Dame and Purdue.
"I talk to the Maryland coaches a lot. I talk to Coach (Randy) Edsall a good amount and the tight ends coach, coach (John) Dunn," Clark stated. "It's a school that's nearby so I'm definitely giving them the opportunity to show me what they have down there. I'm hoping I get the chance to sit down with all of the coaches, I'll get the chance to watch practice and will get to see how they use the tight end live, check out the campus, and meet with academic people. It's going to be a great opportunity. I was on the campus for a little bit this summer, but I actually got hurt pretty early in the camp, so I had to check out early and go home, so this will be a good chance to walk around campus and get the feel for what Maryland is like."
"I'll be at Penn State March 15th and that's going to be pretty exciting just because I definitely have high interest in Penn State," Clark continued. "The old coaching staff used the tight end really well with coach (Bill) O'Brien, so it's going to be interesting to see how coach (James) Franklin and the other guys incorporate the tight end in the offense. It's definitely a school I'm interested in and I can't wait to check it out. I was there last summer for a camp and I really liked the facilities and the campus is awesome. This is going to be a good opportunity to sit down and talk to the coaches and see how they feel about me. Then also talk to them about how they use the tight end."
"Then I'll be at North Carolina on March 16th. That's going to be awesome because I have really high interest in North Carolina," Clark said. "I love coach (Seth) Littrell, the offensive coordinator, who coaches to tight ends too. It's going to be awesome to get the chance to check the school out, meet with coach (Larry) Fedora, and watch practice too, which will be exciting."
"Then I have a big visit out to Ohio State. The Ohio State visit is going to be really, really important for me," Clark stated. "I love Ohio State and it's going to be a great opportunity to meet with the coaches. I met coach (Urban) Meyer at my school, but I wasn't really allowed to talk to him because of the rules. Coach Meyer and coach (Tim) Hinton were able to watch me lift. It's going to be great to finally sit down and talk to coach Meyer and hang out with the players, which I'm really excited about. It's going to be my first time ever on campus and I can't wait for that."
"I'll be there for two days (Friday and Saturday). I'm staying overnight," Clark told Land-Grant Holy Land.
"I talk to coach (Dan) Ferrigno a lot. He's the tight ends coach. I really like how they use the tight end. Last year they had a really good freshmen tight end in Jake Butt, then they also have Devin Funchess who's more of a receiver now," Clark continued. "They use the tight end really well and are one of the teams in the Big Ten that really incorporate the tight end into the passing game and use the tight end is versatile ways by splitting them out and moving them all over the field. That's definitely something that intrigues me as I like to think of myself as hybrid tight end because I can block and catch passes really well. They struggled a little last year, but Michigan is one of the most storied programs in college football and they're a school I'm really excited about."
"Notre Dame is a tight ends university. I like the coaches and the school a lot. They're good guys. I got the chance to talk a lot with coach (Tony) Alford," he said. "It's going to be a good opportunity to get out to the campus and check them out. I'll meet with the coaches like at the other places and will hang out with the players too. I'm excited about that visit."
"Purdue is going to be a pretty cool visit too," Clark continued. "I'm pretty excited about Purdue. I love the coaches and I have a great relationship with coach (Gerad) Parker, the tight ends coach. I know they've struggled lately in the Big Ten, but they're recruiting really hard in the 2015 class and have a great quarterback already committed to them. They're doing things right and I'm excited to get out there for the visit."
In addition to all of the visits he will be taking in the month of March, there are plenty of other schools Clark wants to see before making a decision.
"I definitely want to check out Arizona, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, and Oregon would be a really cool school to visit too," Clark listed the schools he would still like to visit following the spring.
In the past couple of weeks, Clark picked up offers from SEC powers Alabama and Auburn. He was obviously very excited to get offers from such prestigious programs.
"It was awesome," Clark admitted. "I got the chance to talk to coach (Nick) Saban and coach (Gus) Malzahn. It's kind of a surreal feeling to have the chance to talk to those guys, especially coach Saban and is a legend in college football. To hear him complementing me on my game was an awesome feeling. I was so excited and couldn't believe I got offers from Alabama and Auburn."
Then a week or so ago, he picked up an offer from the National Champions Florida State. He's a big fan of Florida State tight ends coach Tim Brewster.
"That was crazy too," stated. "Coach (Tim) Brewster, the tight ends coach, is the man. He actually coached Antonio Gates. He drafted him when he was with the Chargers and was pretty successful with him and is a great coach."
Clark's original plan was to make his college decision before he senior year- which he still wants to do, but if he's not ready, he could announce his choice at the Under Armour All-American Game.
"I'm really thankful for the opportunity to play in the Under Armour Game next year, so I might make a decision at the game," Clark said. "It could still be before my senior season. I'm not trying to rush it, so it's great to have the Under Armour Game as a plan B, but I would like to get it over with before my season so I can focus on my team and season. I need to make the right decision and have to be comfortable with it, so if I haven't made all of my visits by that time, I'm going to wait. It's going to be really helpful taking these visit over the next couple of months."
While he didn't rule out an early decision if he 'gets the feeling' on one of his visits, he doesn't think that's likely to happen because there are so many great schools he's looking at.
"It could happen if I absolutely feel 100% positive and think 'wow this school is amazing and there's not going to be a better place out there'," Clark continued. "That's going to be kind of tough because the schools I'm visiting are all awesome places. I have a hard time believing out that happens because all of these schools are great and to say 'this is the place' with all of the schools out there. That's why this decision is so tough."
Some people might not know that Clark attends a prep school and lives away from home for most of the school year. He thinks this will help him get adjusted to college faster than other recruits that have lived at home their whole life will.
"It's nice for me because I have an advantage. A lot of other kids are used to being at home with their parents and I'm used to being out on my own being at Avon right now," Clark said. "I'm definitely going to have a leg up because I already know what they expect from you in terms of waking up early, meeting with advisors, and study halls. I definitely think it has been awesome for me to go to Avon and is going to help my future."
"My parents are still at all of my games at Avon," Clark stated. "In college I'm hoping they can make it to all of them. If they can't get to all that, will be fine because the distance for me isn't a big deal at all."
Before leaving for Avon, Clark attended Don Bosco in New Jersey, which is one of the top high school football programs in the nation. While leaving was a difficult decision, he's happy with his move to Avon.
"It was tough. They're obviously a powerhouse and they actually won the National Championship the year I decided to leave. It's a powerhouse football school in America," Clark continued. "Avon just offered me a great opportunity to mature as a young man and give me the opportunity to get extra resources as it's a great academic school and will help me in college. Just getting away from home is a great opportunity for me to mature and get ready for college. A lot of kids will get to college and feel a little homesick those first couple of months and I'm already going to know what to do in those situations. It was definitely tough leaving Bosco, but I'm really happy I made the decision to go to Avon."
When it comes to Ohio State, Clark has had quite a bit of contact with head coach Urban Meyer and tight ends coach Tim Hinton.
"I talk to them all the time. I talk to coach Hinton every day. We DM back and forth on Twitter and same with coach Meyer we DM a lot and I also talk to him on the phone quiet a bit," Clark told Land-Grant Holy Land. "They always mention that I'm a priority for the class of 2015. I just got 18 handwritten letters from the entire coaching staff the other day mentioning that I'm the number one guy from their spot at tight end and they really, really want me, and I would fit great in the offense. I definitely have a really good relationship with those coaches. Some of the strongest relationships I have with any coaches in this process."
"Coach Meyer just seems like an awesome guy. He's real serious, but he's pretty funny too," Clark said. "He's definitely a coach I could see myself playing for."
A little down the road when it's time to sit down and work on making a college decision, Clark will consider many different factors.
"Definitely how I fit in the offense in terms of my skill set. I need to go into an offense that's going to throw the ball and have a great impact in the receiving game and in the blocking game too," Clark stated. "A good coaching staff, a family atmosphere, a place I can feel comfortable with everyone, the type of kids they recruit to the school will be important too. I'm going to be spending a lot of time with my teammates and I want to be comfortable around them since I want it to feel like a home away from home. Then I also want to get a good education. Also a school that if I got hurt and couldn't play football I could be comfortable at and enjoy."
Clark had had the opportunity to develop relationships with many different college coaches, but there are a few he talks to more than others.
"Obviously coach Hinton and coach Meyer, coach (Mark) Richt and coach (John) Lilly at Georgia, coach (Chip) Long at Arizona State, we talk a lot, coach (Mark) Elder from Tennesee, who I like a lot, and coach Littrell from North Carolina. Those are all guys I talk to a lot. They're awesome guys and I'm really excited about those guys."
Ohio State is definitely in the mix to land Clark, but as you can see, almost every other national power wants him too. These upcoming visits (especially the one to OSU) are huge and we should probably know a little more as to who sticks out following the visits.
If you haven't seen the standout tight end in action, make sure to check out his junior highlights below.